Los Angeles Measure B: Mandating Condom Use in Adult Films

By Stephanie O’Neill

The city of Los Angeles passed a condom requirement for adult film performers earlier this year. Measure B would expand the requirement to the entire county. (Shawn Latta: Flickr)

The city of Los Angeles passed a condom requirement for adult film performers earlier this year. Measure B would expand the requirement to the entire county. (Shawn Latta: Flickr)

The City of Los Angeles garnered worldwide attention earlier this year when it became the nation’s first city to require male adult film actors to wear condoms while performing.

But the landmark law only applies to film shoots that require a city permit and does not include adult films shot in studios.

Now voters will determine if the requirements should be expanded to all of Los Angeles County. Measure B would direct the Los Angeles County Health Department to enforce broader condom requirements at all adult film shoots countywide, studios included.

The AIDS Health Care Foundation backed the city ordinance and is now behind Measure B. They say both the city ordinance and the county measure are intended to save lives.

“You really can’t argue that people who go to work at a job really ought to be putting their health at risk,” says Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Health Care Foundation. “We put a thing at the conclusion of a film saying ‘no animal was hurt in the making of this film.’ We can’t say that about these films when it comes to people, real life people.”

Darren James is one of those people. He’s a well-known former adult film performer. In 2004, his life and career crashed down around him, just as he was making an exit plan to leave the industry for good.

“I was going to try to put myself back in school, save my money and get out — and the worst thing happened. Right at the time when I signed a contract, I contracted HIV,” he says. “Basically, I got a phone call right before the weekend. From what I remember … it was just devastating. I was numb because I figured, what? Have I got chlamydia? No, I’ve got HIV.”

James, 48, was at the center of a highly-publicized HIV outbreak that led to a month-long shutdown of the San Fernando Valley adult film industry. Three female actors who performed with James were also found to be HIV positive.

“If you’re working, you’re gonna get something eventually with that amount of exposure,” says James, who today works as an HIV counselor for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “A lot of people will tell you they never got nothing. That’s a bunch of BS.”

James says he’s a strong supporter of the mandatory condom laws. Under Measure B, adult film producers are required to obtain health permits from the L.A. County Department of Public Health. Permit fees would fund random inspections by health workers. But so far — despite the new Los Angeles City condom law — no inspections have happened. That’s because city officials and Weinstein’s group have agreed to wait to see if Measure B passes. The countywide measure would supersede the city ordinance.

Meanwhile, adult industry representatives strongly oppose the condom requirement.

“This law will actually hurt performers more than it will help,” says Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, the trade association for the adult entertainment industry.

Duke says her organization has long opposed mandatory condom use among its performers as unnecessary regulation. She points to no reported HIV cases within the industry since the outbreak involving James eight years ago. She adds that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among adult film performers is lower than that among populations with similar demographics. Duke says that’s largely due to stringent testing protocols that the industry adopted after the 2004 HIV outbreak.

“What we have in place works,” she says. “Undermining what we have in place and the self-regulation that we’ve imposed — and that the industry goes by rigidly — is unfortunate. And by mandating condoms and trying to regulate from outside, I think that’s only going to hurt our performers.”

Duke says mainstream adult film producers require all actors to undergo tests for sexually transmitted diseases every 28 days. The results are registered in a database and helps determine whether a performer is eligible to be called for work. Duke fears the condom requirements will hurt the estimated 1,000 to 1,500 adult film performers who work in the Los Angeles porn industry.

“We’ll be looking at the possibility of diminishing protocols in place, and it’s going to make our performers much less safe than they are now,” says Duke, adding that mandatory condom laws may push the porn industry underground or out of Los Angeles County all together, taking with it an estimated $1 billion industry.

What’s more, Duke says, the recession, free Internet porn and piracy have already cut industry earnings by about half. She believes mandatory condom laws are certain to erode profits even further — because most viewers prefer buying and watching films in which performers act without condoms, she says.

But Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation disagrees.

“I don’t think that people are going to be so horrified by that little piece of latex that they’re not going to be willing to purchase these films,” he says.

Listen to Stephanie O’Neill’s story:

  • http://www.facebook.com/FreeSpeechCoalition Free Speech

    In terms of being affected by work-related illnesses and injuries, risks for construction workers and farm workers in California are higher than they are for adult industry performers. And in terms of contracting HIV/AIDS, your chances are much higher if you are a young, gay black man in Los Angeles or you belong to another population where rates are spiking – NOT in the adult industry. In studies conducted by the County of Los Angeles, to determine the dispersal of funding for HIV/AIDS funding in the County, the adult industry was never mentioned, much less pointed out as a “public health threat,” as AHF’s Michael Weinstein would have voters believe.

    The industry has had a successful STI testing system since 1998 and the California industry is the most regulated, scrutinized segment of the adult industry in the world. Since 2008, there have been more than 6,000 new HIV infections in LA County – TWO of those were adult performers that contracted in their personal lives. CDC statistics confirm that most new HIV infections are the result of people that don’t know they are infected because they have never tested. No population on earth tests for STIs more than U.S. performers. We encourage everyone to get tested and to use safer sex practices in their own lives. But we believe this is a choice; we believe in choice for the performers, as consenting adults.

    Michael Weinstein’s quote at the end of this article shows just how
    ignorant he is of the population he is trying to police, by shaming the
    County of LA into creating a costly bureaucracy to address a problem
    that doesn’t exist. The fact is that consumers DO prefer non-condom adult material. Adult films are an entertainment medium and should NOT be used for sex education. Consumers can easily access condom-less material from Europe, Asia and other locations where there is little or no regulation.

    What won’t happen if Measure B is approved: it will NOT stop or slow the spread of HIV – only appropriate, comprehensive sex education can do that.

    What WILL happen if Measure B is approved? The adult industry will be forced underground or out of the LA area, taking thousands of jobs and $1 billion in revenue with it. Jobs like make-up stylists, cameramen, gaffes, grips, caterers, costumers, set builders, webmasters, and many more, besides performers (there will be a few positions available for “condom police” though, who will be paid to check performers’ genitals and watch scenes being shot to ensure proper condom use). AND performers will be forced to work in conditions that will endanger them, not “protect” them.

    So far, AHF has spent $4 million on the Measure B petitions & campaigning; that could have built a beautiful clinic in an under-served area. One can only assume that AHF’s real motivation is media-seeking, or at the behest of anti-adult special interests – because it SURE isn’t about protecting performers… VOTE NO ON B!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.bonehead Nicholas Bonehead

    I have been performing for 15 years and a bi sexual male perfomer both hear in San Diego and the porn valley of Los Angeles and also escort with other men that are Bi and or gay for money. I have unprotected sex and just like female pornstars, we have sex for money to pay the rent and bills and food. We have no insurance and workers compensation and if we become infected we are on out own with no medical help to afford to pay for this situations. I ask that the voters vote yes and it will give us all in the adult industry a step up for more health and insurance benifits.
    Remember, vote yes on Measure B.

  • SOEJINN

    This moralizing and trying to put ridiculous restriction on Porn is a violation of FREEDOM. Porn is a volunteer industry. If you don’t want to do porn, then do NOT work on porn sets. The condom restrictions will hurt the profits of porn producers and they will MOVE to other locations and go FURTHER UNDERGROUND to avoid the regulation. And it is time for people to stop trying to forcibly impose their morals on other consenting adults about sex.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allan.gelbard Allan Gelbard

    Measure B: It’s more than just condoms!

    With all the discussion about Measure B, the Los Angeles County ballot initiative which seeks the adoption of the “Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act” something rather astonishing has been overlooked. The ordinance would require performers in adult films to wear more than just condoms. It requires them to wear HazMat suits. Yes, really…

    Measure B is the Frankenstein’s Monster of Michael Weinstein, the head of the benevolent sounding AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Mr. Weinstein’s stated intent for Measure B is to force the government to require the adult entertainment industry, under penalty of criminal law, to promote what Mr. Weinstein has decided to be a preferred “safer sex” message. However, as Measure B actually requires far more, Mr. Weinstein’s actual motivation must be seriously questioned.

    A few facts:

    1) The industry already has a comprehensive and effective testing system in place. Performers are regularly tested for STDs and are not allowed to perform unless they have a recent clean test.

    2) Because of the existing testing protocol, the incidents of sexually transmitted disease are significantly lower in the adult industry than in the general population. Despite there being more than 7000 films being produced each year, there hasn’t been a single case of HIV transmitted on an adult set since 2004, when the testing protocols were instituted.

    3) The two “poster children” AHF props out as their examples of industry related exposure can’t even prove they were exposed to HIV while filming.

    4) Weinstein first bankrolled the legal takedown of the industry’s first HIV testing facility, and now spends millions of dollars promoting Measure B.

    Why would Weinstein spend the millions of dollars – assumably donated from people who actually want to prevent the spread of AIDS – on Measure B, instead of on research, outreach to at-risk communities, or providing medical treatment to those already infected?

    The answer appears in the language of the proposed ordinance. Mr. Weinstein has written the regulation in such a way that it would require far more than just the use of condoms. Measure B requires all performers to use, at a minimum, condoms, gloves, dental dams, goggles and face masks.

    Measure B requires all producers of “adult films” – including married couples who web-cam in the privacy of their own homes – to get a permit, at the cost of many thousands of dollars. To get a permit, they must also employ an “exposure control plan” that complies with California Code of Regulations Title 8, § 5193, the California workplace regulation relating to the control of hazardous substances. The statute was created to protect workers in California hospitals, medical clinics, and testing labs, but was never intended to – nor could it – apply to the making of adult films.

    Under Measure B, it would require adult film producers to provide, and to insure their employees actually use “appropriate … equipment such as, but not limited to, gloves, gowns, … face shields or masks and eye protection … mouthpieces … pocket masks, or other ventilation devices” where “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, [or] mucous membrane … contact with potentially infectious materials” such as “semen, vaginal secretions… saliva … [or] any other body fluid” might occur. You know, like kissing…

    So, if Measure B passes, it will only be legal to make adult films in Los Angeles if the performer can’t actually have any actual physical contact with each other.

    Mr. Weinstein also claims – falsely – that “not one cent of taxpayer money will be spent.” Thousands of local jobs and billions of dollars in revenue – and the resulting millions of dollars in tax revenues – are at stake. The county will get sued, and it will lose. Measure B will be found to be an unconstitutional content based restriction on speech by any reasonable court. Worse yet, as the law would violate both the state and federal Constitutions, the County will have to pay not only its own attorney’s fees, but also the attorneys fees for the adult industry litigants which may run into the millions of dollars. Guess where those dollars will come from. Not from Mr. Weinstein or the coffers of AIDS Healthcare Foundation…

    Mr. Weinstein is trying to dictate what the viewers of adult entertainment should be able to watch. He believes they are to immature, or too stupid, to differentiate between fantasy and reality. He must truly believe this, because if all the people in Los Angeles that enjoy a little porn from time to time are smart enough to actually research what Measure B requires, and then vote, Measure B will go down to defeat faster than would the sales of adult films in which all the performers are forced to wear HazMat suits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AppleJaxx Apple Jax

    I think it’s a good thing to make condoms mandatory seeing as the performers DO NOT have any type of health coverage or benefits. If they get infected as a young adult, then they are screwed for the rest of their life. Good luck getting any type of insurance after that, it would be insanely expensive. Porn is porn and you still get out of it what you were expecting when watching it, so if you really want porn to continue and get your porn fix, then you should care that the actors are safe. Or else the industry could all implode and before you know it….it’ll be illegal to shoot it anywhere. Just my thoughts.